An extensive exhibitions programme includes a strong focus on contemporary art. A series of curated exhibitions titled 'Engaging Traditions', invites artists to respond to the Museum’s collection, history and archives. These exhibitions are presented in the Kamalnayan Bajaj Special Exhibitions Gallery (KBG) in the main Museum building and may involve interventions into the vitrines holding the permanent collections. The Museum also hosts exhibitions in collaboration with galleries and other institutions in the Special Project Space (SPS) in the Museum Plaza. The Museum has successfully partnered with international museums and institutions to showcase contemporary artists and exhibitions which relate to the Museum’s permanent collection.
A series of curated exhibitions titled 'Engaging Traditions', invites artists to respond to the Museum’s collection, history and archives, addressing issues that speak directly to the traditions and issues that underlie the founding of the Museum, yet evoke the present by challenging orthodoxies and questioning assumptions. Several distinguished contemporary artists including Jitish Kallat, Sudarshan Shetty, L.N. Tallur and Ranjini Shettar have participated in this programme.
Through collaborations with international institutes, the Museum has hosted several exhibitions. Contemporary Photography and the Olympic Posters were presented from the V&A Museum, London. German artist Eberhard Havekost's works were presented in collaboration with the Dresden State Art Collections and the exhibition Social Fabric was showcased with INIVA (Institute of International Visual Arts) London, and the Goethe-Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai. The Museum collaborated with the Guggenheim Museum, New York, to present the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Mumbai,and the Ermenegildo Zegna group on the project ZegnArt Public in 2013. Most recently, the Museum hosted an acclaimed masterpiece of the Florentine Renaissance, Lorenzo Ghiberti’s (Italian, 1378-1455) The Gates of Paradise (1425-52), through a special collaboration with the Guild of the Dome Association, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institute, and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo. Folk Archive, a vibrant, visual account of contemporary popular British culture was held in collaboration with the British Council.
'Notes on Labour' presents Praneet Soi's work, created over periods of extensive engagement with artisans in Kolkata, Srinagar, and Guangzhou in China, which have never been exhibited before in India.
Soi's practice involves the creation of motifs that reflect his deep interest in different forms of cultural expression. This process is intuitive, where images are absorbed into the artist’s visual language over time. The process of image making, some of which has unfolded within the museum, assumes a conversation with the museum and the many different art practices reflected in its collection.
Notes on Labour is also a comment on multiplicity and polyphony. Values that become immediately evident when working with diverse groups of artists and artisans, which is visible across the breadth of this exhibition. Soi's interest in the processes of crafting extraordinary objects with the hand that requires huge skill and his empathy for the unsung artisans is an important theme in the exhibition. The artist has also engaged with the museum's archive of rare books including 'Journal of Indian Art and Industry' that features drawings and illustrations by Lockwood Kipling.
This exhibition is a continuation of the Museum's curatorial series, 'Engaging Traditions', which invites contemporary artists to interrogate the Museum's history, archives and collection.
For many Mumbaikars, home is here and there, stretched between two inescapable and complementary polarities. The exhibition depicts the circulatory journey of urban families between their neighbourhoods in Mumbai and their villages in the Konkan. It brings together traditional artistic renderings, architectural drawings of vernacular houses and settlements, portraits of families and model homes made by contemporary artisans, along with interactive digital installations and videos.
The mass exodus from rural India does not end in hyper-dense centres but loops back to villages, which are transforming as rapidly as cities. The railways help millions of city dwellers maintain active links with their ancestral regions and villages. These belong as much to the future as to the past.
'Mumbai Return' explores the relationship between the urban and the rural, the city and the country. It invites Mumbaikars to reflect on their connections with rural India.